AN umbrella business group - with Hartlepool firms among its members - is heading to the USA for a fact-finding mission on the lucrative shale gas industry.
NOF Energy, which is the business development organisation for the oil, gas, nuclear and offshore renewables sectors, is heading to the United States.
Delegates will visit Oklahoma and Louisiana to meet government departments, shale gas operators and supply chain companies.
Tours of a shale gas production site and supply chain manufacturing facilities are also on the agenda as well as meetings with shale gas industry executives. George Rafferty, chief executive of NOF Energy, said: “As interest in shale gas increases it is vitally important companies with transferable skills, products and services, have a comprehensive understanding of this industry. The impact of shale gas on the United States economy and its energy industry has been extremely positive, so it is only natural for other countries, such as the UK, to want to exploit their own resources.”
Estimates are that there may be 1,300 trillion cubic feet of shale gas present in the north of England. The process of extracting it, is known as fracking.
Mr Rafferty added: “The existing UK energy sector supply chain will have a role to play in a British shale gas industry, but it is essential that, before we even get to that stage, we fully understand the requirements of the sector in terms of technologies, services and competencies.
“More than 60 percent of our members have expressed an interest in shale gas, so this is a very important visit for this organisation.”
He said an understanding of the industry would allow NOF Energy members to be ready for the opportunities arise which are likely to arise in the UK.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that local authorities in England would receive 100 per cent of the business rates collected from shale gas schemes, rather than the usual 50 per cent.
It is the latest move by the Government to promote the exploitation of unconventional gas in the UK, which the Prime Minister claimed could bring the UK 74,000 jobs, more than £3 billion of investment and cheaper and more secure energy.